Another mission accomplished! It’s great to be an American who knows who their real enemies are, and sees our real leaders doing something to defeat them.
Kurdish peshmerga fighters backed by US warplanes pressed a counter-offensive against jihadists on Monday after retaking Iraq’s largest dam alongside Iraqi government forces, as the US and Britain stepped up their military involvement.
The recapture of Mosul dam marks the biggest prize yet clawed back from Islamic State (Isis) jihadists since they launched a major offensive in northern Iraq in June, sweeping Iraqi security forces aside.
US aircraft are carrying out strikes in support of the forces battling Isis militants, who have declared a caliphate straddling vast areas of Iraq and Syria.
The jihadists also came under attack in their Syrian stronghold of Raqaa by Syria’s air force for a second straight day on Monday.
“The planes are striking and the peshmerga are advancing,” a Kurdish fighter told Agence France-Presse on Monday near the shores of the Mosul dam.
AFP journalists heard jets flying overhead and saw smoke rising from the site of a strike that a peshmerga member said targeted one of the entrances to the dam.
Fighting on Monday also broke out in an area south of the dam while engineering teams worked to clear booby traps and bombs left by jihadists, said Kawa Khatari, an official from Iraq’s main Kurdish party.
Iraqi security spokesman Lieutenant General Qassem Atta confirmed on Monday that the Mosul dam was entirely liberated in a joint operation by Iraqi “anti-terrorism forces and peshmerga forces with aerial support”.
Atta added on state television that while the dam had been retaken, fighting was continuing in adjoining facilities.
The Mosul dam breakthrough came after US warplanes and drones at the weekend carried out their heaviest bombing yet against Isis in the north since they began launching air strikes on 8 August.
The US Central Command reported that the military had carried out 14 air strikes on Sunday near the dam located on the Tigris river, which provides electricity and irrigation water for farming to much of the region.
Sunday’s strikes destroyed 10 Isis armed vehicles, seven Isis Humvees, two armoured personnel carriers and one Isis checkpoint.
The US president, Barack Obama, told Congress that the “limited” air strikes he has authorised on Iraq to support the fight for the dam protected US interests there.